As the mobile gaming industry booms, leaders such as Activision Blizzard Inc. (ATVI), Electronic Arts Inc. (EA) and Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. (TTWO) now have another means to monetize with ecommerce.
Ottawa, Ontario-based online giant Shopify Inc. (SHOP) has released a new software development kit (SDK) called Unit Buy, giving game makers the ability to add support for sales of physical goods within a game. Unit Buy gives players the in-game option to buy branded products related to the games they are playing—like ordering from a traditional retail store, but without the requirement of leaving the game. It’s a win-win for convenience-loving game enthusiasts and entertainment companies increasingly benefiting from a rise in recurring revenue and in-game purchases over traditional sales from new game downloads. (See also: Betting on the Booming eSports Industry.)
Shopify has developed its own game, Northside, for the purpose of showcasing its new software’s ability. In the game, wherein players explore islands to try and find other players, users are able to purchase pins related to the characters. Other games may push a range of products including customized T-shirts heralding personalized in-game accomplishments, or a photo of a scene taken during a particular game.
The new SDK will integrate with Apple Inc.’s (AAPL) Apple Pay and will work across mobile, console and PC platforms. With the Apple Pay integration, mobile games for Apple’s iOS are set to benefit, as the software also supports the capability to build a digital storefront for other sellers without having a product of their own.
In general, thriving game companies are positioned to benefit from a new in-game sales channel, along with a fresh opportunity to push their branded products, boosting fan engagement, awareness and loyalty. (See also: Analysts Bullish on Activision Blizzard.)